The Madison Square Garden Company doesn't exactly have the best reputation when it comes to women. That may have something to do with the high-profile sexual harassment lawsuit, or it might have to do with the owner hiring back the man who was found guilty of sexual harassment to run their WNBA team. Hell, it may even have something to with the owner and the same man who was found guilty of sexual harassment making an appearance on HBO in order to paint the victim as a liar.
It warms the heart, then, to read Jerian Grant's recent piece in The Players' Tribune. The Knicks point guard reminisced on his college years at Notre Dame, where the powerhouse women's basketball program stood on equal footing with the men:
The women's team set the tone for the entire program. We shared everything. We shared practice time at the Joyce Center. We both got the same gear and the same respect from the school, from the top down. No one got treated differently. What we got, they got. If they had a game the next day, they'd be on the main court and we'd be in the practice gym.More important, we were all friends.
Skylar Diggins, Jewell Loyd, Kayla McBride, Natalie Achonwa. They became some of my best friends. But they were also some of the nation's best players â and stars on campus. They had more random fans coming up to them than we ever did. The first time I saw Skylar wasn't even in person. Her picture was all over the front page of The Observer, our student newspaper. It was a story about a preseason game, and I remember thinking, Wow, this is on another level.
Sometimes I would give the women's players a hard time about being more recognizable on campus than we were. They'd laugh and rub it in our faces. But it was funny because it was true.
Now that he has gone pro, Jerian laments the poor treatment of women players:
Recognition dropped off overnight for my friends once they got to the WNBA. They went from the top of the college basketball world -- with wall-to-wall media coverage -- to something else. The money is obviously not even close to the same as it is in the NBA. The endorsements and the TV deals aren't the same. The crowds are smaller.
But worse than all of that, the respect isn't always there. Coming from such a close relationship with the women's team in college, I wasn't used to hearing people put down the women's game.
You see the disrespect in how people dismiss women's basketball as "boring."
You see it in your Instagram feeds and Twitter mentions, where comments about women's basketball players get really ugly.
In all fairness, Jerian, Instagram feeds and Twitter mentions get ugly for women in every occupation -- athlete, journalist, doctor, teacher, you name it. Men are assholes, and they revel in their ability to be assholes while cloaked in the anonymity of the internet.
Grant and his Knicks teammates were a visible presence at Liberty home games in 2015, and he pledges to be there again this summer. You don't have to enjoy the women's game as much as Jerian does, but you should take the advice of an NBA player: The WNBA at the very least deserves your respect.